Willy Aybar

Win Values are here! See the post below. Woo!

If I asked you to name one guy who doesn’t currently have a starting job in major league baseball (or will get one after he signs his new contract) but deserved one, who would you say?

I’d say there’s one guy who stands out from the pack, and that guy is Willy Aybar.

From 2005 to 2008, in his age 22 to 25 seasons, Aybar has accumulated 745 plate appearances, or a little more than one full season’s worth of playing time. His career wOBA is .339, thanks to a good contact/gap power skillset, making him an above average major league hitter. 2008 was his worst year from a raw statistics perspective, with his .321 wOBA and -0.18 WPA/LI. However, he was remarkably unlucky in terms of batting average on balls in play – a .267 BABIP that simply wasn’t supported by how he hit the ball. Chris Dutton’s BABIP predictor had Aybar’s 2008 expected batting average on balls in play to come in at .314. Had the distribution of his balls in play been normal, Aybar would have hit something like .289/.363/.460. He improved offensively in 2008, even if the results don’t show it.

Defensively, he’s played mostly third, but also some second and first, and UZR has him above average at all three positions. As a +2 third baseman over 1,000 innings, it’d be fair to suggest that he could be solid defensively there, and he potentially could handle second base. He’s done well at the keystone in limited time, and as we explored earlier, most third baseman who also play second don’t see a drop in performance when shifting from one spot to the other.

In terms of total value (now available on the player pages), Aybar has been worth +3.8 wins over a replacement level player in his major league career. That works out to +3 wins per 600 PA. And remember, that doesn’t account for his rotten BABIP luck last year.

Right now, Aybar’s probably a true talent +2.5 to +3.0 win player with upside – a 26-year-old switch hitting infielder who can play multiple positions and has untapped offensive abilities, but doesn’t have to improve at all to already be above average.

The Rays don’t have any room for him in their line-up, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they kept him around as injury insurance. However, Willy Aybar deserves a full time job, and hopefully he gets one.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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